EAGLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – On Monday, Clinton County Circuit Court Judge Cori E. Barkman ruled against Eagle Township Supervisor Patti Schafer in her appeal against Clinton County’s approval of recall language in a petition against her. In her five page opinion and order, Judge Barkman addressed all of Schafer’s arguments and ultimately concluded that the recall language approved by the county’s Election Commission in March was both “factual” and “of sufficient clarity.”

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The recall is over Schafer’s handling of the Megasite development in Clinton County that is formally referred to as the Michigan Manufacturing Innovation Campus (MMIC). The recall petition language states, “In the spring of 2022, Eagle Township Supervisor Patti Schafer signed a non-disclosure agreement pertaining to the potential large-scale development of land in Eagle Township. This act limited the information available to Eagle Township residents affected by the potential development.”

Schafer had started the appeal process back in April and the hearing for the appeal took place two weeks ago on July 19th in Clinton County’s 29th Circuit Court. No opinion was rendered at the time as the judge had exercised her right to make a judgment in a written brief.

In her order released on Monday, Judge Barkman denied relief to Schafer, upholding the decision of the Clinton County Election Commission to approve the recall language that was submitted by Eagle Township resident Troy Stroud.

The judge’s order said the appeal was primarily involving plain language interpretation but she also addressed the other issues raised including Schafer’s contention that the Election Commission erred in failing to present a formal motion before voting to permit recall language and that the language contained opinions and omitted “critical” information.

Judge Barkman stated in her opinion that, according to the Open Meetings Act, a lack of formal motion during the Commission hearing does not render the Commission’s vote invalid.

As for the other issues, Schafer disputed in her briefing that the language didn’t disclose the whole reasoning for her actions in signing the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). However, the judge agreed with Commission member Debra Sutherland who stated, “Our job here today is to determine if the language is factual and clear. The background behind the NDA is not really our task to determine. Personally, myself looking at the language, I feel it’s factual, I feel it’s clear.”

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Judge Barkman also looked at Schafer’s argument that the terms “large scale” and “non-disclosure” in the recall petition language were terms up for interpretation and not sufficiently clear. However, the judge upheld that “so long as the petition language informs the official of the course of conduct in office that is the basis for the recall, then the language should be deemed sufficient.”

In the end, the judge stated that the 2012 amendment to Michigan Election law narrowed the standards for recall petitions and according to the law, she found the language both factual and of sufficient clarity. Judge Barkman ended her order by saying, “This order is the last remaining claim to be decided in this case and renders this matter closed.”

Schafer had been represented in her appeal by attorney Christopher Trebilcock of Clark Hill PLC, who also defended Whitmer during her own recall woes. Schafer and her attorneys had argued that she was recalled for doing her job and that the recall language wasn’t factual enough but in the end, the judge disagreed.

Meanwhile, during the appeal process, Eagle residents were busy signing the petition to recall Schafer. Organizers were able to collect 560 signatures to turn in when they only needed 416. According to the petition organizers, 500 signatures have been verified by the township clerk and have been turned over to the county clerk.

Township resident Chelsea Hoppes who is a Facebook administrator for the group “Stop the Mega Site, Eagle, MI” posted, “This is a great step in the right direction for the residents of Eagle Township to elect someone who will represent their voice! Signatures for the petition have already been turned in and validated by the township. They are now in the process of being validated at the county.”

Stroud, the petition’s originator, said about the decision, “The people of Eagle are united against what has been done to our community. We have worked hard to have our voices heard after our representatives at all levels were silenced with NDAs. We are determined to have a supervisor that represents us. We have our signatures turned in and we are ready for the next steps.”